Which states have the largest Latino population?
October is National Hispanic Heritage month and these are the states that will be celebrating it the most.
It’s Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, and communities across the country are putting together celebrations.
Ethnicity is a political and social question in the United States. White Americans often tie their ancestry to one or multiple countries. For example, someone can be ethnically Irish and German, but according to the census, they are just white.
A similar situation exists for people of Hispanic and Latino descent, who are grouped by an imprecise Latin American region. However, this category has many issues. First, the category ‘Hispanic’ includes those who have Spanish ancestors who never immigrated to Latin America. Second, Latinos do not explicitly include Brazilians, Guyanese, or Surinamese, who are South American (some, like the Guyanese, may not even identify with the denomination of South American), but whose countries do not fall within Latin America. Those from these countries, as well as people who have Caribean ancestry, may or may not identify with the label of Hispanic or Latino (some Guyanese do not even identify with the denomination of South American). The categorizations of race and ethnicity take a highly nuanced social system and strip complexity from it, and as such, there will always be issues and gaps.
Bringing this back to Hispanic Heritage Month, there are some within the Latino community that take issue with the name. The term Hispanic, as mentioned above, ties ethnicity to the colonial force that subjected Central and South America to centuries of enslavement, genocide, and other horrors. By alluding to the colonial power, it strips recognition from the diversity of the region as well as indigenous populations whose ancestors may or may not have Spanish ancestry.
Survival against the odds
Hispanic Herritage Month is often framed as a celebration of the contribution of immigrants, but it is critical to mention that before California, New Mexico, Texas, and other parts of the Southwest formed part of the US, they were a part of Mexico.
Mexico became an independent country in 1810.
In the media and in politics, Latinos are often cast as foreign, but in reality, many of these communities were in the Southwest long before white settlers from the East Coast and Mid-West made their journey west. It is not that these communities crossed the border, but rather, the border back in the early 1800s crossed them. This process and the aftermath of the Mexican-American War and the experience of these communities should not be sugarcoated.
Those who lived in California, including both people of ‘Mexican’ and indigenous roots, were persecuted, enslaved, lynched, and raped. The terror experienced by these groups was approved of by the US federal government and encouraged people to move West, particularly as the Gold Rush began.
Professor of History at UC Los Angeles, Benjamin Madley, has spent his academic career examining the historical archive from that period. In speaking about the role of the federal government in the conquest of California, Dr. Madley said, “Official records made it plain that the state and federal governments spent more than $1,700,000 — a huge amount of money at that time — on campaigns against California Indians.”
Which states have the highest Latino populations?
Over the last few decades, immigration from South and Central America has increased, and vibrant immigrant communities have also formed in many corners of the country.
Looking at numbers, California (15.57 million), Texas (11.52 million), and Florida (5.66 million) have the largest Latino populations. Unlike what many far-right commentators believe, there are no states where Latinos make up the majority of the population. Further, if that were the case, what exactly is the issue? People are endowed with their rights by nature of their humanity, a person’s race, on the other hand, has no intrinsic value.
As a percentage of the population, New Mexico (49.20%), Texas (39.44%), California (39.09%), Arizona (31.51%), and Nevada (28.90%). It should not be a surprise to many that the states that at one point were a part of Mexico and remain the closest to the border have the highest percentage of Latinos in their populations.